The Salem Fair does more than bring fun and excitement to our area every year. It also brings jobs.
For many in our region, unemployment is a reality so they bank on this time of the year because they know it’s a chance to earn a paycheck.
Donni Morris is one of those people.
"It is hard work, but if you're having trouble finding a job they will pay you decent,” said Morris.
The Roanoke native is back on the fairgrounds, but she’s looking for pay, not pleasure.
"Since I left in 2011, I have not had a full time job and I've tried and tried."
Morris said she is one of many in our region struggling to find work so she knows when the fair rolls in, so do the employment opportunities.
"The second that they see our trucks and trailers start rolling on the fairgrounds they're here ready to sign up,” said Heidi Elsperman.
Elsperman is the office manager for Deggeller Attractions. She said the company employs about 100 employees.
When the carnival hits Salem, more than 30 of those employees are people from our area. Some are looking for temporary work, while others are in it for the long haul.
"It's definitely a different life,” said Elsperman. “We're on the road 10 months a year. They have families or they wanted to be home or they found jobs at home."
Krischa Dutoit is one of those people making a living out of the traveling carnival.
"If you get a job you must keep it,” said Dutoit. “Unemployment is very big and jobs are very scarce."
Dutoit is talking about her home in Cape Town, South Africa. She told WDBJ 7 some of her family members spend a month working to make about $400 US dollars in Cape Town. Dutoit said she can make a lot more wearing her Deggeller Attractions uniform in the US.
"We'll double that in like one week over here,” she said.
From Arkansas to Massachusetts to California, many leave home knowing the carnival is the best job opportunity for them.
As for Morris, she plans on leaving Roanoke in just a few days when the fair packs up and heads north.
"I know that if I do when I come back I will be able to get everything straightened out and hopefully find something then and if not there's always February when I can go again,” said Morris.
Morris said she will be back in Roanoke the week before Thanksgiving when Deggeller Attractions wraps up its tour.
Elsperman said traveling carnivals have had trouble employing Americans because they are on the road so much. As a result, her family’s company is taking advantage of what is called a H2B visa. It allows foreigners to work for companies, like Deggeller Attractioons, on a limited visa.
Deggeller Attractions employs about 40-50 of people using the visas. Right now, they are only hiring people from from South Africa and Mexico.